The building that was erected in 1928 in the Käki block at Kalevankatu 30 in Helsinki is known for being the past home of the Oxygenol toothpaste factory. Today, this Sponda-owned property is a modern office and retail building located centrally in Helsinki, only a stone’s throw from Kamppi.
OY Oxygenol AB (formerly AB Oxygenium OY) was established in Finland by pharmacist Edward Stigzelius in partnership with his brothers-in-law, pharmacist Gösta Salingren and dentist Axel Salingren. The first Oxygenol adverts are from 1914, and the sale of Oxygenol toothpaste in Finland began just a couple of years later. At the time, the toothpaste was produced by Medica, a historic Helsinki-based pharmaceutical factory. The company’s office was located at the Market Square Apothecary owned by Edward Stigzelius.
The growth of the toothpaste business meant that the company soon found itself needing more space. In 1920, the brothers purchased a plot of land and two small wood houses from Russian owners at Wladimirinkatu 30, which is today known as Kalevankatu 30. In 1928, the wood houses were replaced by the red brick factory that is still there today. The building was designed by Ole Gripenberg, a Finnish architect and doctor of technology.
A new heyday after the war
The Käki block was hit hard by the war. The property at Kalevankatu 30 was heavily bombed on the first day of the Winter War. The building’s repairs and courtyard wing were completed during the Interim Peace in 1940.
As in many properties in the area, the basement of Kalevankatu 30 served as a storage space for alcoholic beverages during Prohibition, from 1919 to 1932. During that period, the building’s basement held confiscated bottles and canisters of liquor. The basement and even its vents were kept locked up to ensure that the beverages would not end up the wrong hands and corrupt the Finnish people.
During its long history, the building has also been home to several different businesses, such as the Kauppakirjapaino Oy bindery, which closed in the early 1990s, and the world-famous producer of light bulbs and lamps, Oy Osram Ab, which takes its name from osmium and wolfram (tungsten), two elements that were commonly used in manufacturing incandescent filaments in the early 20th century.
Just over a year ago, the property became the new home of the digital agency Frantic.
“We wanted to bring some contrast and depth to our work. We didn’t want our digital work to take place in a shiny new complex with glass walls,” says Sami Relander, CEO of Frantic, to explain the rationale behind the company’s choice of business premises.
Historical spirit preserved in renovation work
The property at Kalevankatu 30 has gone through extensive renovation over the years. The building most recently underwent a renovation in the 1990s, at which time the building technology was replaced. However, the spirit of the old factory setting has been preserved despite the renovation work that has taken place.
“This property exudes the spirit of a historical factory environment, but provides a modern and charming setting for many types of businesses and organisations. The building has a variety of diverse spaces that create dimensions for unusual and bold spatial solutions,” says Kai Ervamaa, Account Manager at Sponda.
The property has leasable office and retail space on seven floors.
“The space is open in character and can be adapted to the tenant’s needs as necessary. Tenants also have access to social facilities on the basement floor. There is also storage space available for rent on the basement level,” Ervamaa adds.